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North Dakota House defeats bill to require seclusion and restraint policy in schools
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North Dakota House defeats bill to require seclusion and restraint policy in schools

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A bill to require all North Dakota school districts to have a written policy banning seclusion and restraint in most situations failed to pass the state House on Thursday.

House Bill 1318, sponsored by Rep. Larry Klemin, R-Bismarck, provided an exception for cases in which there was an "imminent danger of serious physical harm" to the student or others. It would have required annual training for staff on alternative ways to manage student behavior, such as de-escalation.

The measure was amended to create a requirement for schools to report seclusion and restraint incidents each year to the Department of Public Instruction and to prevent therapeutic or safety devices used by students from being prohibited by the bill.

"No one is advocating for students to be restrained," Klemin told the House Thursday. "Yet no one is stepping up to find out how often it happens."

The House Education Committee earlier gave the bill a do-not-pass recommendation. The House voted 68-26 to kill the measure.

Parents and advocates for people with disabilities told the committee at a January hearing that seclusion and restraint techniques are used disproportionately on students with disabilities.

Opponents of the bill listed concerns with the state mandating local policy and the bill's mandatory training requirement.

Rep. Pat Heinert, R-Bismarck, said Thursday that the training requirement did not identify how much or what kind of training would be necessary.

A similar bill failed to pass during the 2019 legislative session.

Bismarck Public Schools has a policy that bans seclusion and restraint except in cases that could immediately result in physical harm or extreme property damage. Mandan Public Schools does not have a specific policy.

Reach Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or sam.nelson@bismarcktribune.com.

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